Happy St. Patrick's Day, dear reader! It is green, wet, and rainy, here in these parts. The conclusion will include a brief mention of St. Patrick's Day. First, however, the reason for this article is explained. (This is the tenth article by Worldviews in Conflict topic.)
Early on the Sunday afternoon of 3/5/2023 -- while engaged in further research, on the sixth article, in my Christian Evidences series -- I happened to come upon an article, by a godly brother in Christ, with whom I have exchanged online correspondence, over the years. The article is A Letter to the Body of Christ, by Dr. John Mark Hicks, on John Mark Hicks, 2/13/2023.
Later that afternoon, I spoke by phone with a friend, whom I've known since grade school. He had attained age 63 on Friday. Our conversation -- after having read brother Hicks' article -- had inspired this writing, which I'd been keeping in draft. It is completed and published on St. Patrick's Day.
The news media report facts on news topics, followed by the reactions of their guests. I do not care to hear those reactions. Just present the facts, with no spin. I am able to react!
First, this article reports the facts on the Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action and the Carl Spain Center on Race Studies & Spiritual Action: Letters of Conscience to the Churches in America: A Courageous Christian Response to White Supremacy. Then, it places my reaction to that news -- about which I'd not known, until 3/5/2023 – in the context of the phone conversation with my grade school friend. The conclusion will encourage churches to wake up, not woke up.
The Fact: the Carl Spain Center
Dr. Hicks' 2/13/2023 article presents the 4/21/2020 transcript of his initial oral presentation, at the opening of the Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action, at Abilene Christian University (ACU), in Abilene, Texas. His transcript is included in Letters of Conscience to the Churches in America: A Courageous Christian Response to White Supremacy. Dr. Hicks' website includes articles that are useful to me, in my ongoing Christian Evidences series. I had visited his website for that purpose. I was surprised to find his 2/13/2023 article.
Investigating further, on the Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action website, I confirmed that the Center is affiliated with Abilene Christian University (ACU), as ACU's undated Campus News article, ACU announces new Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action, states and as Carl Spain Center – History states. Apparently the Carl Spain Center started in 2018. The mission of the Center is to “. . . conduct research on the historical and contemporary role of race and racism in the church and its Christian institutions.” The Center's purpose is to assist churches in their understanding of race, promote racial unity, and to draw Christians, of all races, closer to God and to each other. The mission and purpose, as stated, are laudable, of course.
The Fact: Letters of Conscience to the Churches in America: A Courageous Christian Response to White Supremacy
The Carl Spain Center website does not include a search option; however, by selecting the Resources link, one of the three Resource Downloads links is to A Christian Response to White Supremacy. The direct download and complete title is: Carl Spain Center on Race Studies & Spiritual Action: Letters of Conscience to the Churches in America: A Courageous Christian Response to White Supremacy.
The undated volume is 135 pages. The Forward is by Jerry Taylor, Executive Director. The volume, apparently, was published in 2020, within the paradigm shift of the new cold virus (COVID-19) and the racial tensions that were major focus points at the time.
The volume includes letters by twenty-nine individuals. I know two, who are brothers in Christ. Dr. Hicks' letter is found on pages 40-45. The letter by the other brother is found on pages 21-25. That brother and I had spoken in person several times, in our younger years. I knew his Christian parents very well. His family and he were missionaries in Ghana for many years.
I read most, but not all, of those twenty-nine letters. (After a while, I grew tired of reading the same type of statements.) My specific focus was on the Forward and on the two letters, by the known brothers in Christ. The volume ends with the Index, on pages 132-135.
The letters cite biblical themes of spiritual unity in Christ and encourage all Christians to that unity. Who could not agree? Letters oppose “white supremacy,” white supremacists,” and the “white supremacy movement.” Agreement against that form of racism should be universal. Universal agreement should be against all forms of racism.
The underlying theme of the letters follows the paradigm shift, in 2020, which is continuing. For example, my search of the volume, excluding the Index, finds “racism” used forty-one times. “Systemic racism” is found once. “White supremacy” is found nineteen times – including the title page. “White supremacist” is found eleven times. “Privilege” is used in the context of “white privilege” nine times. “White privilege” is used once. One letter, on page 45, encourages white churches and white Christians to confess their corporate sin of racism.
Following the paradigm shift of 2020, however, the volume, as titled, specifically opposes “white supremacy,” as it intended and as it should have. It does not, however, except in general terms, state opposition to other forms of racism against other ethnic groups. The balanced approach, against all forms of racism, as properly and biblically defined, is missing.
My Reaction -- in the Context of the Phone Conversation with My Grade School Friend
The volume, including letters by twenty-nine individuals, did not define key terms that are used. Let us define those key terms. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the following terms.
Racism: 1: a belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. also: behavior or attitudes that reflect and foster this belief : racial discrimination or prejudice. 2 a: the systemic oppression of a racial group to the social, economic, and political advantage of another. b: a political or social system founded on racism and designed to execute its principles.
White supremacy: 1: the belief that the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have control over people of other races. 2: the social, economic, and political systems that collectively enable white people to maintain power over people of other races.
White supremacist: a person who believes that the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have control over people of other races.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary does not define “systemic racism;” however, the Cambridge Dictionary does, as follows.
Systemic racism: policies and practices that exist throughout a whole society or organization, and that result in and support a continued unfair advantage to some people and unfair or harmful treatment of others based on race.
The 135-page volume is understood in the context of the 2020 paradigm shift. Despite the biblical comments, which are good, the volume follows the secular “white privilege” agenda. That agenda alleges that all white people, corporately, are guilty of the sin of racism (even if only socially and economically) against all black people, by virtue of having been born white. That “racist from birth” agenda is a form of negative peer pressure. While we (as individuals) should confess and repent of every legitimate sin, the imposition, by negative peer pressure, of an alleged corporate sin of racism upon an entire race is, in itself, a form of judgmental racism, or sin.
Those who wrote the letters in that volume simply followed the negative peer pressure of the “white privilege” agenda. In other words, they followed the socialist propaganda, even if they didn't realize it.
My grade school friend and I had a good and long conversation. We talked about many subjects. He brought up the subject of “white supremacy.” Reflecting on our school-age days, my friend didn't recall any personal racism against black children. He and I both remember several black children of our age then. We liked and got along well with them, as they did us. I observed that parents, black or white, had raised us young folks, in the proper and biblical manner. We remembered what our parents had taught us, in the little song that we had sung: “Red and yellow, black and white. They are precious in His sight.” We judged by content of character, not by skin color, as a wise man (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) had stated, in his eloquent restatement of biblical wisdom.
My friend observed that any “white privilege” that he had, as a boy, must have been the “privilege” of working hard on the farm and in the fields. Yes, that was similar to my “white privilege,” which included eating a lot of soup beans and mashed potatoes and hard work, by the chores that Mom and Dad expected me to do (without any allowance paid).
My friend and I were both raised, in a rural area of northeast Tennessee, near a small town, by godly parents. We were not raised in wealthy families, monetarily. We were wealthy, in that we were raised by godly parents.
In my 3/10/2021 article, I wrote, in part:
Anyone who is truly Appalachian knows that the color of the skin does not matter. What matters is the content of character. Appalachians have known this for decades. I have met many fine Appalachians -- red, yellow, black, and white. On 3/7/2021, while on House Mountain hike #177, I met a family (man, wife, and child) hiking up as I was hiking down. Their skin was black. My skin was white. We all made new Appalachian friends! I hope that I see them again.
Irish heritage and black history have one item in common. Actually, any genealogy has one item in common. What is that one item? All people are one, starting from Adam and Eve. Also, all people, who are Christians, are one, in Christ. I refuse to allow the socialist propagandists to distinguish us. Do you? You should not.
Today, I would not change a single word. My basic reaction to the 135-page volume is that I will not allow the negative peer pressure, of alleged corporate and white racism, to influence me into a sense of false guilt or to force me to repent of an alleged sin. The volume does well, to encourage oneness in Christ. It, however, errs by affirming the alleged sin of corporate white supremacy.
The church is not divided by race, color, social status, gender, or age. The apostle Paul has told Christians that we are “all one in Christ Jesus.” (See Gal. 3:26-28.) Before His atoning sacrifice, Jesus' prayer to the Father was for all Christians to be united and one, as He and the Father are one, so that the world would believe in Him. (See Jn. 17:20-23.)
I have ministered in predominately white nations (America and Russia), black nations (Jamaica), and brown nations (India). A specific focus of ministry was in a predominately black community, in Charleston, Missouri. Mom and Dad raised me correctly. I am not guilty of “corporate” racism, simply by having been born white.
My article of 1/22/2023 defined “woke” correctly. The conclusion states, in part:
Wake up (not woke up), America! Do not go to the devil! Turn to the Lord! I have spoken.
I hope that the Carl Spain Center and all who contributed to the Letters of Conscience to the Churches in America: A Courageous Christian Response to White Supremacy are following the Lord's agenda – not the “woke” agenda (by the common and secular meaning).